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Basic Resume Cover Letters

Resume Cover Letters
Capture the Employer's Attention.

Resume cover letters act as your first opportunity to capture the employer's attention.

The hiring manager is looking for someone who can effectively perform the job as described in the job advertisement.

Send or post a cover letter with your resume.

Think of a resume cover letter as the answer to a job advertisement. Use this opportunity to...

  • Set yourself apart from the competition by telling the employer that you are the most qualified candidate for the job.
  • Highlight your skills and experience that relate to the target job.
  • Emphasize what you can contribute to the organization.

Important note: Do not use the same letter for every job.

Customize each cover letter to match each individual job. This shows the employer that you did your research, and you are well informed about the position.

As a recruiter, I can tell the difference between an effectively written letter and generic one. Please take the time to customize your letter. This extra time will pay off during your job search.

I understand… Writing a resume cover letter can be a challenging task. I was in your shoes once upon a time!

Just take it one step at a time and you will see that the task is not as difficult as it may seem.

Just follow these two steps.
Review cover letter format to gain an understanding of what to write.

Review sample cover letters for examples. Use them as guides as you write your own cover letter.

I recommend that you write your resume first. Then use your resume as a guide when writing a cover letter, but don't just repeat the information already in your resume.

Complement the resume, but refrain from duplicating it.

What is the Purpose of a Resume Cover Letter?

The cover letter's purpose is to…

  • Introduce yourself as a prospective employee.
  • Express your intent to apply for a specific job.
  • Highlight skills and experience that relate to the qualifications in the job description.
  • Emphasize your strengths that relate to the position.
  • Tell the employer how you can apply your skills on the job.
  • Refer the reader to your resume.
  • Ask for a job interview.

Impress the employer!

Create a good first impression.

Use a professional, confident tone.

Make every word count.

Grab the reader's attention from the very first sentence.

Clearly communicate your purpose.

Convince the reader to take action.

Showcase your writing and communication skills by using proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Research the company and show that you have an understanding of the company and of the job. To show that you are knowledgeable, mention something you learned, such as the company's...

  • Mission statement
  • Future goals
  • Years in existence
  • Major accomplishments

Before Writing, Ask Yourself…

  • What is my purpose for writing?
  • What 3-5 qualities do I have that relate to the job.
  • What does the employer need?
  • Do my skills and experience match the job description?
  • What makes me want to work for a particular organization.

When Writing Your Resume Cover Letter…
  • Have a clear purpose for writing the letter.
  • Plan and organize each section.
  • Put your most important ideas first.
  • Keep your paragraphs short and your sentences simple.
  • The letter should be brief, concise, and not too lengthy.
  • Tell employer how you can use your skills on the job.

Keep the job description within reach, and review it frequently to make sure your letter matches the job description.

How to Write a Cover Letter

Each paragraph has its own purpose.

Click here for more details about how to format each paragraph.

Opening Paragraph

  • Tells why you are writing states your interest in the job or the organization.

Middle Paragraph(s)

  • Highlights your specific skills and experience that relate to the target job. Tell the employer how you will use those skills on the job. Give examples (e.g., leadership skills, education, customer service skills, etc.).

Final Paragraph

  • Identifies action for follow-up and thank the employer for considering you for the job.

Highlight transferable skills throughout the resume cover letter to show how your skills can transfer from past experience to the target job.

Note: If your resume shows gaps in employment dates and you feel the need to explain, do so in one sentence. Do not go into too much detail. You have more important topics to write about. Legitimate gaps that you can mention include:

  • Layoff from a previous position
  • Left to further your education
  • Took time off to care for family

Don't just say, "I was unemployed." Offer an explanation. For example, you can use a sentence similar to these:

"After a one-year break from the workforce to care for a new baby, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Sales Manager position that is advertised on your website."

"Although I have been away from the workforce for the past two years while I completed my Bachelor's Degree in Business Management, I am now looking for the right opportunity to continue my career."

Explaining employment gaps in your cover letter is a proactive approach to addressing questions that may arise if an employer notices the gaps.

More cover letter info:

Cover Letter Format

Sample Cover Letters

Return from Resume Cover Letters to Simple Resume Writing Instructions Home

Smart tips to help you format and write a cover letter

Struggling to write a cover letter that will catch an employer's attention? We've got tips to help you show your best self—and a sample you can use to get started.

There's nothing scary about writing a cover letter.

You've found the perfect job, hit the "apply" button, and started the process with your engines revved and ready. But wait! Slam the brakes! They want a cover letter. Oh no. 

Don't let this request derail you. Here's everything you need to know to write a letter that truly sells your skills. Plus, scroll down to see a sample cover letter you can use to craft your own.

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that, along with your resume, is sent with your job application. A cover letter is your chance to tell a potential employer why you’re the perfect person for the position and how your skills and expertise can add value to the company. The letter should be professional but personable, and serve as a sort of introduction.

Do I need to send a cover letter?

A lot of job seekers today wonder if a cover letter is still appropriate to send with your resume—and the answer is yes! Even if an employer doesn’t ask for a cover letter, it couldn’t hurt to send one. In fact, it’s can help you get someone's attention in a different way, and it can be a great way to display your enthusiasm for the job and company.

What are the basic elements of a cover letter?

  1. Greeting: Address your cover letter to the proper person.
  2. Opening: Write a personable, inviting opening paragraph that notes how your skills are a perfect fit to the job and displays your enthusiasm.
  3. Hook: Highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job you're applying for.
  4. Skills: Emphasize additional relevant skills, such as computer languages or certifications.
  5. Close: Briefly recap your strengths as a candidate, and include your contact information.

Cover letter tips

1. Parrot the keywords: Just like with your resume, your cover letters should be customized for each job you apply to. Start by reviewing the job description. In it, you will find important keywords that let you know what kind of employee the company is hoping to find. Use these same keywords throughout your cover letter.

2. Adapt for the company: Each version of your cover letter should talk about how your skills will benefit the particular company that you want to work for. You want to target the company’s needs—not your own. Demonstrate how you could help them achieve their goals. Remember: You're selling yourself in a resume and a cover letter, but the employer has to want to buy.

3. Show you "get" them: Your cover letter should demonstrate that you have done some research into what the organization's pain points are. Presenting yourself as a solution to a hiring manager’s problem can help your cover letter take the right tone. If you’re applying to an administrative position, be sure to mention your time-management skills; if you’re an IT professional, include your expertise in improving efficiency. Always ask yourself: How can I help this company?

4. Proofread. Don’t assume spell check will catch every mistake (it won’t). Slowly review your cover letter to make sure everything reads properly. Have someone else read your cover letter for backup.

Need even more confidence before you start your cover letter? Below are some additional cover letter tips you could reference—or keep scrolling for a cover letter sample:

Cover letter mistakes you should avoid: From overusing “I” to being too vague, there are a bunch of pitfalls that can trip you up. Don’t let them!

Cover letter format and advice tips: Learn how to set up your cover letter and what each section should include.

Cover letter tips for new grads: You might lack real-world work experience, but your cover letter can be chock-full of activities that demonstrate your potential to succeed.

Cover letter tips for technology professionals: The ease of applying to online jobs has led many IT professionals to skip sending a cover letter, but that’s a mistake. 

Cover letter tips for finance professionals: If you’re searching for a finance job or want to be prepared just in case, you will need a dynamic cover letter to grab the hiring managers’ attention.

Tips for better email cover letters: If you're emailing a resume, your cover letter will deliver the first impression. These eight tips will help you craft a better email cover letter.

Cover letter sample

Check out the sample cover letter below (or download the template as a Word doc) to get some inspiration to craft your own. And we've also got you covered if you're looking for a cover letter in a specific industry. 

Once you've finished your cover letter, consider joining Monster—you can upload and store up to five cover letters and resumes, so that you can apply for jobs on our site in a snap!


Ms. Rhonda West
Customer Service Manager
Acme Inc.
123 Corporate Blvd.
Sometown, CO 50802

Re: Customer Service Representative Opening (Ref. ID: CS300-Denver)

Dear Ms. West:

I was excited to see your opening for a customer service rep, and I hope to be invited for an interview.

My background includes serving as a customer service associate within both call-center and retail environments. Most recently, I worked on the customer service desk for Discount-Mart, where my responsibilities included handling customer merchandise returns, issuing refunds/store credits, flagging damaged merchandise for shipment back to vendors and providing back-up cashiering during busy periods.

Previously, I worked within two high-volume customer-support call centers for a major telecommunications carrier and a satellite television services provider. In these positions, I demonstrated the ability to resolve a variety of issues and complaints (such as billing disputes, service interruptions or cutoffs, repair technician delays/no-shows and equipment malfunctions). I consistently met my call-volume goals, handling an average of 56 to 60 calls per day.

In addition to this experience, I gained considerable customer service skills during my part-time employment as a waitress and restaurant hostess while in high school.

I also bring to the table strong computer proficiencies in MS Word, MS Excel and CRM database applications and a year of college (business major). Please see the accompanying resume for details of my experience and education.

I am confident that I can offer you the customer service, communication and problem-solving skills you are seeking. Feel free to call me at 555-555-5555 (home) or 555-555-5500 (cell) to arrange an interview. Thank you for your time—I look forward to learning more about this opportunity!


Sue Ling

Enclosure: Resume